Niles is located where important Indian trails crossed the St. Joseph River. When the French built their trading post and mission station here in the 1690s, the river was called, the “River of the Miami’s”. The mission was known as the “St. Joseph of the Miami’s”, and over the years both the post and river gradually became known as the St. Joseph Post and the St. Joseph River. It wasn’t until 1746 that the name “Fort St. Joseph”, became part of the common and official vernacular.
In the historic streets of Downtown Niles you’ll find specialty shops, antique stores, and boutiques. Our excellent shops offer one-of a-kind treasures, delicious foods, and beautiful souvenirs. Riverfront access, parks, trails, and golf courses: award winning school systems, unparalleled recreational opportunities and easy access to Lake Michigan.
The Chapin Mansion, above, is part of the History Center. A WPA project connected the mansion to the St. Joseph Museum in 1939. The museum holds over 10,000 items, including Fort St. Joseph and Potawatomi Indian artifacts, local memorabilia, and a collection of drawings by Chief Sitting Bull.